Dr Robert Jay Lifton THE NAZI DOCTORS:
                        Medical Killing and the
                            Psychology of Genocide ©
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Dr. Auschwitz: Josef Mengele  
is why he could help Dr. B. adapt to Auschwitz and be an “inspiration” to him despite their ideological and characterological differences.

Above all, Mengele could combine his ideology and medical energies to impose a logic on the entire Auschwitz killing process. Observing his “fit” with the place and the energies it released in him, other SS doctors, and to an extent inmates as well, could not help but feel that Auschwitz “logic.” Mengele himself of course experienced that logic even when he objected to specific policies (the destruction of the Polish intelligentsia and the annihilation of the Gypsy camp). For these objections were based on an ideal Nazi vision, which he wanted Auschwitz to live up to (and he apparently considered these two groups to be essentially “Aryan”). His ideological dedication and discipline were such that his objection to aspects of the larger Nazi-Auschwitz vision never diminished — might even have intensified — his allegiance to the whole of it. In brutally tracking down for the crematorium the same Gypsy children on whom he had lavished so much affection, he was demonstrating not merely his obedience to orders but his loyalty to a higher truth whatever the lesser errors within it. The Auschwitz logic he disseminated had to do with the conviction of his performance there, and it was “medical” logic.

The conviction in turn was a manifestation of his talent for doubling, having greatly to do with his schizoid tendencies and inclinations toward numbed detachment — a talent that Auschwitz as an institution strongly nurtured. There was, then, a mutually reinforcing process — a vicious circle — in his proclivity for doubling, the Auschwitz demand for it, and his energetic expression of it there. Dr. Tadeusz S.’s characterization of him as “the perfect SS man” might well be changed to “the perfect Auschwitz SS advocate and physician-mentor.” Mengele could become the quintessential Auschwitz pedant because his actions so well articulated the camp’s essence. ..

It was precisely this special vitality achieved in Auschwitz that Dr. B. referred to as Mengele’s “strong life principle” — a life principle that included omnipotent-sadistic impulses of rare intensity to which he could all too easily give vent in Auschwitz. Whatever the self-absorption and brooding in his “dead eyes,” Mengele was probably the most alive Nazi doctor in Auschwitz. In speaking of him as a doctor “playing God” and then reversing that image to “God playing doctor,” one prisoner doctor touched upon Mengele’s sense of being the embodiment of a larger spiritual principle, the incarnation of a sacred Nazi deity — whether that deity was itself an ideological vision of the future or the Führer himself. 
Evil Deity or Evil Human Being? 
This demonization process, initiated in Mengele’s mode of functioning in Auschwitz, helps us to understand his aura and his significance for Auschwitz inmates as well as for ourselves today. Here we return to the Mengele legend: the image of Mengele as an evil deity.  
Medical Killing and the
Psychology of Genocide

Robert J. Lifton
ISBN 0-465-09094
© 1986
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